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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: April 5, 2000 

  ________________ THE BURMANET NEWS _________________
/       An on-line newspaper covering Burma           \
\________________ www.burmanet.org ___________________/

April 5, 2000
Issue # 1502

Noted in Passing:

"There are those who say that nothing works. There are 
those who claim that the help of the international 
community is not going to make democratization come any 
earlier to Burma. This is not so. The help of the 
international community does make a difference."

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (See ASSK: MESSAGE TO UN 

*Inside Burma








___________________ INSIDE BURMA ______________________


BANGKOK, April 5 (AFP) - Opposition leader Aung San Suu 
Kyi on Wednesday accused Myanmar's junta of sacrificing 
the country's youth in a brutal climate of human 
rights abuses spawned by its determination to cling to power.

   In a message to the United Nations Human Rights 
Commission, the Nobel laureate said the military, which has ruled 
since 1962, was guilty of a catalogue of social, economic 
and educational abuses.

   "For the military regime, the most important thing 
is to keep their hold on power, not to loose their grip 
on power," she said in the message smuggled
out of Myanmar and released in Bangkok.

   "In order to keep their grip on power they are 
prepared to sacrifice the future of our young people,"
she said.

   Aung San Suu Kyi said the closure of universities by 
authorities fearing unrest in what they consider hotbeds
of militancy would have serious consequences for Myanmar's future.

   Especially damaging, she said was the division 
between schools patronised by the military 
which have remained open and those used 
by the public, which are mostly closed.			

   "This does not augur well for the future of our 
country. We will become a house divided. We will 
become a nation made up of two classes, the military 
elite and the rest."			

   In the speech, Aung San Suu Kyi faulted the 
military's defences of its human rights record, 
in which it "tries to separate political rights from 
economic, social and cultural rights."

   She said Myanmar's apalling economic problems 
stemmed from bad governance and poor macroeconomic 
policies which remain unchallenged in the absence of a 
legislature to monitor government policy.

   "Economic improvements cannot be brought about until 
there is a certain extent of political rights on the 
part of the people," she said.

   Despite international outrage at the regime the 
plight of the people of Myanmar, formerly Burma, 
was little changed, she warned.

   "The situation of human rights in Burma is not 
getting better. It seems to be getting worse. 
The greater the people desire 
democracy, the more frantic 
the military regime becomes to oppress them."

   Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 
an overwhelming victory in elections in 1990 which the military has 
refused to recognise.   It characterises her frequent 
attacks on its regime as the words of a traitor to 
the country in cahoots with the government's enemies in the West.

   The message was due to be played at the commission 
in Geneva on Wednesday afternoon, three days after 
Myanmar condemned as "highly biased" and "derogatory" 
a report by the United Nations special rapporteur for human 
rights accusing Yangon of widespread rights violations.
   The report "ignored the most important fact that the 
entire population of nearly 50 million Myanmar people 
are enjoying peace, stability and better 
living conditions for the first time in their life. Any 
objective observer could testify to this," a government 
statement said.

   The special rapporteur's report was submitted to the 
UN Commission on Human Rights on March 30.

   "The adoption by the government of Myanmar of 
military solutions to political problems ... continues
to generate a pattern of gross and
systematic human rights violations," it read.

   "Myanmar's ethnic and religious minorities such as 
the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Rohingyas continue to suffer severe 
including arbitrary arrest, killings, forced labour in the army and 
trafficking of women."



GENEVA TIME  The following video message will premiere 
at the public meeting held at Room 25, UN Palais des 
Nations, Geneva,in parallel to the 56th Session of the 
Commission on Human Rights. For more information call 
66 1 859 5193 during business hours in Geneva.  

 GENEVA, MARCH 2000  It is now almost a decade since 
the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has been 
looking into the state of human rights in Burma. We are 
duly grateful for all that has been done over the years 
but of course much remains to be done. One of the main 
problems is that the present military regime tries to 
separate civil and political rights from economic, 
social and cultural rights. We would like to point out 
that this cannot be done.   Economic, social and 
cultural rights are inextricably linked to political 
and civil rights. If we look at the state of the 
Burmese economy today, it is clear that the main 
troubles are due to mismanagement - mismanagement by 
the administration. We have said again and again that 
the state of the Burmese  economy is due largely to bad 
governance. Until there is good governance, our economy 
cannot be improved. The observations of trained 
economists and international financial institutions 
have pointed out that the main troubles of the Burmese 
economy are due to the lack of proper macroeconomic 
policies  on the part of the military regime. It is due 
to such factors as an unreasonable and unrealistic rate 
of exchange. In a democratic country, such things would 
not be allowed to pass because there would be a 
democratic assembly representing the peoples' interest 
which would call the ruling government to order. So 
economic improvements cannot be brought about until 
there is a certain extent of political rights on the 
part of the people. [1]  

As for cultural, social and 
economic matters, how can we separate them from 
politics? Our country is made up of many ethnic 
nationalities. Their rights have to be guarded by the 
government. The rights of ethnic nationalities include 
the right to develop their own culture, to develop 
their own kind of social system. In Burma today, 
although the military regime claims that it has 
achieved unity with the ethnic nationalities, the truth 
is that our ethnic nationalities are suffering greatly 
from repression of all kinds. For example in the Mon 
state, in recent years since this military regime came 
to power, the teaching of Mon language in schools has 
been prohibited. Now if this is not an infringement of 
the cultural rights of an ethnic people, what is. 
Language is very important. 

Language is one of the most 
important parts of any cultural package. If a people 
are not allowed to teach their own language how are 
they expected to pass on their cultural heritage. This 
is just an example of the kind of social and cultural 
injustice that exists in  Burma today. [2]  In order to 
remove these injustices, the ethnic nationality 
peoples, like the rest of the people of Burma must be 
given a voice. They must be given a right to express 
their opinions, to be able to work for their 
aspirations, to be able to enjoy the full rights of 
citizens of a free democratic nation. The Burmese 
people who constitute the majority in Burma also suffer 
from a grave lack of human rights. If we cannot remedy 
this situation soon, our country will get poorer and 
poorer. Our country will get poorer not just in  
material terms. We are not talking about foreign 
exchange reserves. We are not talking about gold 
reserves. What we are talking about is our people. We 
are going to get poorer in terms of human resources. 
This is mainly because this regime pays so very little 
attention to the education of our people. 

For the 
military regime, the most important thing is to keep 
their hold on power, not to lose their grip on power. 
In order to keep their grip on power they are prepared 
to sacrifice the future of our young people. 
Universities in Burma have been shut over the last few 
years. Some universities, some faculties were opened, 
reopened for a short period. Some are opened at the 
moment. But in general the universities of Burma remain 
shut. There is also the dangerous development that 
members of the armed forces are educated separately. 
Medical colleges and engineering colleges are kept 
opened for members of the armed forces while the 
civilian population is deprived of higher education. 
This does not augur well for the future of our country. 
We will become a house divided. We will become a nation 
made up of two classes,  the military elite and the 
rest. This does not augur well either for the military 
or for the civilians. [3]  A nation can progress and 
prosper only when there is unity, and only when there 
is a general acceptance among the people that there is 
justice. In no country can justice be guaranteed a 
hundred percent. Even in established democracies a 
continuous effort has to be made to uphold justice, 
equality, and human rights. In a country like ours 
which is totally crushed by a military regime, justice 
is a dream. But it is a dream that we are determined to 
realize. This is why we are working for democracy in 
Burma. And this is why we ask the world to support our 
cause.  There are those who say that nothing works. 
There are those who claim that the help of the 
international community is not going to make 
democratization come any earlier to Burma. 

This is not 
so. The help of the international community does make a 
difference. This military regime understands, like all 
governments in all countries understand today, that no 
country can remain separate from the rest of the world. 
There are so many links - economic, cultural. Mainly 
economic and of course scientific [and] technological 
[links] between the nations of the world that whether 
we like it or not, we would not be able to undo those 
things, they will remain, and because of that the 
international community can help greatly to bring about 
the fast  democratization of our country.  Our people 
are the most precious resource that we have. There are 
many people who talk about the natural resources of 
Burma. They keep on saying, particularly the military 
regime, keeps on harping on the rich natural resources 
of our country. For us the richest resource is the 
human one. It is our people who are precious to us. If 
a people are uncared for and uneducated, they will not 
be able to do anything about using the natural 
resources for the good of the nation. So our first care 
is our people. We want to make sure that our people 
enjoy security, enjoy freedom and they enjoy the right 
to advance themselves. That is to say they enjoy the 
right to education.  Health and education for us are 
the two most important things. And we want to provide 
our people with good health care, good education. And 
to do that we need an accountable, transparent 
government. A government that is not there to oppress 
the people but to do the best that it can for the 
 We want a system whereby the people are allowed to 
judge whether or not the government in power is 
actually working for the good of the nation or simply 
for the good of that government itself. [4]  For this 
right many people in Burma have made many sacrifices. 
In spite of the scrutiny of international community, 
violations of human rights in Burma continue. It 
continues at a disgraceful rate. Quite recently, a man 
in his 70s was sentenced to two years imprisonment 
because he had listened to the  Voice of America on the 
radio. While he was under trial his wife, also elderly 
and unwell, died because she was so troubled by the 
pressure exerted on them by the authorities. In which 
country of the world are people so oppressed that 
listening to a radio service serves them with two years 
of imprisonment? [5] 

So please understand that the 
situation of human rights in Burma is not getting 
better. It seems to be getting worse. The greater the 
people desire democracy, the more frantic the military 
regime becomes to oppress them, to try to dissuade them 
from working for democracy; which is why the greater 
our peoples' desire for democracy, the greater the need 
for help from the international community. Please do 
not forget that instability in one part of the world 
could spread very rapidly these days. I hope that the 
world would be able to take an example of what happened 
recently in East Timor and learn to help when help is 
needed and not only when help is overdue.  I would like 
to thank you very much on behalf of the peoples of 
Burma and on behalf of the democratic forces who are 
struggling that not just our country but the world may 
be a safer, freer place for all peoples of the world.  
NOTES  [1] Examination of budget allocations makes 
clear the SPDC's priority for military spending and the 
lack of concern for the well being of the general 

According to the World Bank, use of public 
hospitals and dispensaries has fallen by 80% in the 
last 10 years due to an extraordinarily low budgetary 
outlay of 0.2%. Current government spending for 
education as a share of national income "is among the 
lowest in the world." For schoolchildren between the 
ages of 5-9, the government spent 1,200 kyat (about 3.5 
US dollars) per child in 1990/91. This has fallen to 
100 kyat (0.30 US dollars) in 1999/2000. Rather than 
improve this situation, the military regime has 
announced a supplementary budget to cover this year's 
deficit, and it includes more spending for construction 
and defense. Additional expenditure is as follows:

 a) Construction:12.69 billion kyat ($39.05 million)

 b) Defense: 6.27 billion kyat ($19.29 million)

 c) Education 1.357 billion kyat ($4.17 million)

 d) Health 1.085 billion kyat ($4.38 million)

 Diplomats have commented that much defense spending is 
not included in official figures, indicating that 
actual spending for the military is much higher. If 
looking at official figures alone, defense spending 
equals 16 times the amount spent on health.

  INFORMATION FROM: * Myanmar: An Economic and Social 
Assessment, Talking points for Burma Roundtabe at Human 
Rights Watch. Bradley Babson, Senior Advisor, World 
Bank. 16 December 1999. * "Extra Burmese budget big on 
army spending," The Nation. 21 March 2000. P A7.  [2] 
In order to maintain and develop Mon culture, the New 
Mon State Party (NMSP) established approximately 250 
schools before signing a cease-fire agreement with the 
SLORC in 1995. After signing the agreement, Mon 
communities assumed that they would be able to continue 
building more  schools, and the NMSP officially 
requested the SLORC to allow the teaching of Mon 
language in government schools. 

The SLORC denied this 
request, but said Mon schools could be built. As the 
Mon education improved, many students from government 
schools moved to attend Mon schools, prompting the 
regime to begin closing the Mon schools. For example, 
in October 1999, an order was sent to close a Mon 
school operating out of a monastery in Kwan-tar 
village, Mudon Township, Mon  State. The order came 
from Military Intelligence, and the Chairman of the 
local Peace and Development Council was responsible for 
carrying out the order. The day after the order was 
issued, the village headman called a meeting with all 
students' parents and explained that the school had to  
close because it was an illegal institution and 
teaching of Mon language was also illegal.


* The Mon Forum, issue no 11/99, November 30, 1999.  
[3] Between 1988 and 1996, universities were open for a 
total of only 30 months. After December of 1996, they 
were completely closed until recently. In December 
1999, some campuses were opened, but were moved to 
locations outside the cities. Such conditions made it 
difficult, if not impossible,  for many students to 
attend. Much depends on their financial capacity to pay 
for transportation from their homes or for 
accommodations near the university. At some 
universities, students were made to sign papers 
promising not to engage in any political activity. They 
were warned that if there were any demonstrations, 
campuses would be closed again. Indeed, some campuses 
have already closed. Some universities were 
restructured to become "Government Technical Colleges" 
(GTC) which reduced the university degrees from 
university to college level. Students in Thanlyin and 
Hmaw Bi (Rangoon Division) staged protests, calling for 
cancellation of the new system and improved teaching 
environments. As a result, those GTCs were closed.


 * ABSDF Media Release, "The ABSDF calls for the 
reopening of all  universities and for better 
education" 6 February 2000. * NCUB: Letter to UNESCO-
Reopen the Universities, National Council of the  Union 
of Burma Foreign Affairs Committee. 17 January 2000.  
[4] As mentioned in Note [1], there is a clear lack of 
commitment by the military regime in Burma to taking 
care of the health and educational needs of the general 
population, and the repercussions are severe.
Approximately 35% of the population has no access to 
public primary health care services  of any kind. There 
is an HIV/AIDS crisis in Burma. While the regime claims 
that only 25,000 people have tested positive for HIV in 
Burma, the UN AIDS program has cited 440,000 as a more 
realistic figure. Official SPDC statistics say the 
maternal mortality rate is 1.00 urban and 1.7 rural per 
1000 live births. Other sources, however, have 
indicated much higher, at 517 per 100,000 live births. 

The under-5 mortality rate in 1997 was 114, and Burma 
has the 3rd highest mortality rate in Asia, behind 
Cambodia and Laos. INFORMATION FROM: * Alternative 
Perspectives, Other Voices: Assessing Gender Equality 
in  Burma. Submission to the 23rd session of the 
Committee of the Convention on  Elimination of All 
Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Images Asia.  
December 1999.

?	Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All 
Forms of Discrimination  Against Women, The Union of 
Myanmar. March 1999. * State of the World's Children 
1999 UNICEF.  [5] On 18 December 1999, U Than Chaun, 
the 70-year old proprietor of a coffee shop in Shwe-
goo township, Kachin State, was arrested and his 
radio which was tuned to the Voice of America 
(Burmese broadcast) was seized. On 19 January 2000, 
he was charged and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment 
under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code. U Than 
Chaun's wife was suffering from heart ailment and 
high blood pressure, and she passed away while he 
was in prison. He himself suffers medical problems 
which have now become life threatening. 

	NLD Statement 21 (2/00) (translation). 

 VCDs of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's message are 
available for USD12 incl. postage and handling. 
These VCDs can be played a MPEG on PCs with CD, or 
on VCD/DVD players with PAL system. Pls allow 3-5 
weeks for delivery, depending on your location.




March 28, 2000, Tuesday     



Announcer: March 28th, 2000.   

AARON BROWN, host:   

The defendant, a huge 
US energy company building a pipeline in a country 
known for its brutal dictatorship.   

(Former President, Unocal): When I'm visiting 
these people in these villages, they say, 'We're 
glad you're here, please stay.'   

plaintiffs, a dozen peasants who say they were 
brutalized by the troops guarding that pipeline.   
Unidentified JANE DOE #1: (Through translator) 
They took our chickens, then burned down the house 
and arrest the people.   

DAVE MARASH reporting:   
When you worked, were you always paid?  

Unidentified Man #1: (Through translator) No, I 
never got paid.   

BROWN: It could be a precedent 
setting lawsuit.   

Ms. JENNIFER GREEN (Center for 
Constitutional Rights): You can't have two people 
in the same business operation, one of them being 
clean and the other one playing dirty and, you 
know, without them both being held responsible.

Mr. IMLE: We--we cannot--I cannot, personally, 
take responsibility for the conduct of the 
government of Burma, anymore than I can take 
responsibility for the conduct of the--of the Los 
Angeles Police Department.   BROWN: Tonight, The 
Peasants vs. Unocal, right and wrong in an ugly 
corner of the world.   Announcer: From ABC News, 
this is NIGHTLINE. Substituting for Ted Koppel and 
reporting from Washington, Aaron Brown.   BROWN: 
Life, at least for a reporter, would be a lot 
easier if the good guys all wore white hats and 
the bad guys wore dark hats and no one wore gray 
hats at all. Life, including tonight's broadcast, 
doesn't work that way. There are all sorts of 
shades of gray here. Most of the essential facts 
are not in dispute. Unocal, the giant American 
energy company is working with the government of 
Burma on a massive natural gas pipeline. And both 
Unocal and the Burmese government stand to make a 
lot of money on the deal. That's fact. It is also 
fact that the Burmese government is autocratic and 
undemocratic. Its human rights record is shameful. 
Most of the world would describe the government's 
treatment of its own people as criminal.  Now some 
of the gray. Does doing business with the Burmese 
government mean Unocal is in some way legally 
responsible for the government's evil acts from 
forced relocations to the allegations of slave 
labor to torture and rapes? Or might it be that 
Unocal is trying to do good in a bad place; 
providing jobs to hundreds, thousands of people 
who are dirt poor? Does American participation 
give legitimacy to a ruthless government? Or does 
its presence restrain that government from 
behaving even more ruthlessly?   Those questions 
are not new. They have come up before. But never 
has a case like this ended up in court. The 
government's alleged victims suing the American 
company in American courts. The outcome could have 
profound impact on all American companies doing 
business abroad. And that is fact, too. The case 
is John Doe vs. Unocal, and it's reported tonight 
by NIGHTLINE's Dave Marash.   

Mr. IMLE: There is a 
lot of oil in this world, a lot of oil reserves. 
And in the field of natural gas, fortunately for 
the world, and for our environment, there's also a 
lot of natural gas around the world.   

(VO) As John Imle, the former president of the 
California energy giant Unocal notes, planet Earth 
is awash in natural gas. For the world's energy 
companies this means, as Unocal executives told 
their stockholders, quote, "The challenge of the 
future is not finding the opportunities, but 
deciding which ones to pursue."   

Given that 
philosophy, it's curious, but Unocal has chosen to 
seek its opportunities across this nervously 
guarded border over there in Burma. By choosing 
Burma, one of the world's most notoriously 
repressive military dictatorships, as a place to 
do big business, Unocal has brought on itself big 

Unidentified Protester #1: Unocal!   
Group of Protesters: (In unison) Out of Burma.   
Protester #1: Unocal!   

Group of Protesters: (In 
unison) Out of Burma.   

MARASH: (VO) This is small 
trouble, but symptomatic of worse to come.   
Protester #1: Unocal!  Group of Protesters: (In 
unison) Out of Burma.   MARASH: (VO) For five 
years now, human rights activists and maverick 
stockholders representing 295 Catholic, 
Protestant, and Jewish organizations have been 
fighting Unocal's Burmese investments, posing 
embarrassing public questions like these...   

Father JOSEPH LaMAR: Why did you go into a country 
that was known to have egregious human rights 
violations on the part of this lower government 
there? Why do you even go in there?   Protester 
#1: (Foreign language spoken)   

MARASH: (VO) Over 
the second half of the '90s, brand name American 
companies like Compaq, Apple, Disney, Pepsi, 
Kodak, and Motorola found that they had no good 
answer to those questions. So they all left Burma. 
And so did energy companies Texaco and Arco. 
Today, Unocal is the last major American company 
in Burma, holding out against what it insists is 
unfair political pressure. 

Why did Unocal choose to develop resources in Myanmar, Burma?   

Mr. IMLE: Initially, what we recognized there was A, 
the existence of the natural gas resources; and B, 
the existence of a market within pipeline 

MARASH: And, of course, Burma offered 
a steady supply of cheap, local labor. It's that 
labor pool, and how it was recruited, paid and 
treated, that is at the heart of a precedent-
setting lawsuit filed by a dozen Burmese peasants 
against Unocal and two of its top executives. They 
find themselves in the uncomfortable position of 
having to defend themselves in court against 
charges of complicity in crimes against humanity, 
including forced labor, forced relocation of 
villagers, torture, beatings, even rape. 

Unidentified Man #2: (Through translator) I had to 
carry their ammunition. They put thousands of 
bullets in a basket and they threw in their 
sandals and rice and everything else. The load was 
so heavy, I couldn't even stand up without a 
friend's help. I was so thirsty, but I had no 
water. So I sucked in the sweat that was pouring 
down my face.   

Mr. TYLER GIANINNI (Earthrights 
International): The stories are the same. They've 
been consistent for more than a decade. It's the 
same story...  

MARASH: (VO) Tyler Gianinni is a 
lawyer representing the plaintiffs against Unocal.   

Mr. GIANINNI: It's the same stories of rape, of 
forced labor, of forced relocations, people having 
to move from their lifelong homes, of having to 
carry ammunition and food for the military and 
build their camps. And if you don't cooperate, 
you're tortured or you could disappear or you're 
killed instantly on the spot.  

Unidentified Man 
#3: (Through translator) Since the pipeline work 
started in 1994, villagers have been relocated. I 
saw people suffering. The pipeline caused increase 
in all kinds of forced labor. I experienced that.   

MARASH: (VO) Unocal's defense? These stories have 
nothing to do with us. We're just investors. Our 
French partner, Total, operates the project. And 
the crimes against humanity, if they happened, 
were allegedly committed by the Burmese military 
or the Burmese government. 

Los Angeles federal 
court Judge Richard Paez rejected these arguments 
to dismiss the case, ruling that cases involving 
allegations of human rights abuses against 
American corporations and their officers can be 
heard in US courts. Quote, "Plaintiffs allege the 
defendants have paid and continue to pay the 
government of Burma to provide labor and security, 
accepting the benefit of, and approving the use 
of, forced labor. The allegations of forced labor 
in this case," he wrote, "are sufficient to 
constitute an allegation of participation in slave 

 Ms. GREEN: What we're hoping that this 
case does is establish a precedent that--that 
companies--that there are human rights standards 
which govern how companies do business in 
countries around the world. So, there can't be a 
situation where they can pick up and move to the 
location which in fact shows the least respect for 
human rights violations, which is what Unocal is 
doing in Burma.   

Ms. DEBORAH SPAR: If Unocal had 
taken into effect all of the political 
implications that were going to follow upon this 
investment, I think it changes the calculus 

MARASH: (VO) Deborah Spar uses the 
Unocal case in her classes at the Harvard Business 

Ms. SPAR: I think the lawsuit is hugely 
important, not just for Unocal, but for any 
American multinational corporation. If this suit 
goes ahead and if the plaintiffs win, it changes 
the political calculus for any multinational 
corporation. It means that making investments in 
places like Burma become much more risky. 
MARASH: Each side seems to see this case through 
an aphorism. Unocal's critics accuse 'You lie down 
with dogs, you get up with fleas,' while Unocal 
complains, 'No good deed goes unpunished.'   
BROWN: So, are Unocal and its accusers talking 
about the same set of facts? We'll find out in 
part two of Dave Marash's report when we come 

Announcer: This is ABC News: NIGHTLINE, 
brought to you by...   (Commercial break)   
MARASH: (VO) The military junta that runs Burma 
has long been a pariah to global advocates for 
human rights.   Mr. GIANINNI: The United Nations 
has condemned the regime annually for most of this 
decade for its human rights records, and so have 
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, other 
organizations.   MARASH: (VO) After seizing power 
in a bloody coup in 1988, the generals further 
ruined their reputations by aborting the clear-cut 
1990 election victory of Burma's pro-democracy 
party and keeping under house arrest its Nobel 
Peace Prize-winning leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.   

Ms. AUNG SAN SUU KYI: The goal is this one: We 
want a democratic government elected by the 

MARASH: (VO) Among Burma's most 
consistent critics has been the US State 
Department. Year after year, the department's 
annual human rights reports have detailed the same 
crimes, quote, "including rape, forced labor, and 
extra judicial killing. Disappearances continue." 
And year after year, these abuses have been 
quietly documented and are reflected annually in 
judgments like this. Quote, "The people of Burma 
continue to live under a highly repressive 
authoritarian military regime, widely condemned 
for its serious human rights abuses."   

When UNOCAL is making the decision, "Do we want to go 
in here?" first off, what kind of credence, what 
kind of role in your considerations--your 
corporate considerations do things like the State 
Department human rights reports play? Do you 
dismiss them?   

Mr. IMLE: No. We don't dismiss any 
information about a country where we're thinking 
about investing. But, as I said earlier, the main 
things we look for are economic opportunity, which 
must be accompanied by--by a climate in which we 
can perform our business as an island of 
integrity, no matter what's going on around us, to 
our own standards.   

legal map of Burma, there is an island of 
integrity--the stripe its pipeline cuts across 
southern Burma.   

Mr. IMLE: There's a lot going on 
in that area that we're very proud of.   

MARASH: (VO) UNOCAL has a ready list and a ready supply of 
videotaped evidence of the company's good deeds in 
behalf of 40,000 people living in the pipeline 

Mr. JOHN IMLE: First, direct employment, 
which is important, because employment and 
economic opportunity is a human right. I say after 
that medical facilities. Twelve full-time doctors 
in an area that had no doctors.   MARASH: (VO) No 
one disputes the pipeline company's good deeds, 
often put on display for visiting congress people, 
journalists, and even a pair of human rights 
professionals. But the plaintiffs assert in their 
lawsuit that UNOCAL's island of integrity is 
sustained by a surrounding sea of human rights 
abuses.   Unidentified Man #4: (Through 
translator) The company works with the Burmese 
army. The army uses people's labor to build roads 
to get to the pipeline. The army brought us to the 
pipeline area to work. We had to build the 
helipad. We had to carry the rations.   MARASH: 
(VO) We've concealed the identity of this man and 
of all the other Burmese plaintiffs in the UNOCAL 
case in observance of a protection order issued by 
Judge Paez.  

John Doe #11: (Through translator) 
We have to go work for the railroad. We have to go 
work in the battalion compound and we have to work 
as porters. In one year, I think I had to go more 
than 10 times. 

MARASH: When you worked, were you 
always paid?   John Doe #11: (Through translator) 
No. I never got paid.   

Mr. IMLE: I am sure that 
the military uses conscripted labor for porterage. 
And I--I know that in the early days of the 
execution of this project, military units in the 
area of the project were using conscripted labor.   
MARASH: (VO) But, says Imle, not anymore, a claim 
disputed by one of the plaintiffs, John Doe No. 
11.   John Doe #11: (Through translator) That's 
not true. They continue to force people to work 
for them. After I left, people from my village 
still had to work. They told us about it.  

IMLE: We cannot and I cannot personally take 
responsibility for the conduct of the government 
of Burma any more than I can take responsibility 
for the conduct of the--of the Los Angeles Police 
Department. I can take responsibility for what 
goes on in our pipeline area.   

plaintiffs' attorney Jenny Green, that argument is 
red meat.   

Ms. GREEN: And you, my business 
partner, you're going to take responsibility for 
making sure that the military barracks are built, 
that the helipad is built, that--that enough 
soldiers are in the area to guard this pipeline. 
And you can do whatever you want. But I'm not 
responsible because it's--it's this other person. 
And US law is particularly designed to say you 
can't have two people in the same business 
operation, one of them being clean and the other 
one playing dirty and, you know, without them both 
being held responsible.   

BROWN: UNOCAL faces its 
accusers in part three of Dave Marash's report in 
just a moment.   (Commercial Break)   Unidentified 
Man #5: (Through translator) A military officer 
came to my village and recruited the villagers.   
MARASH: (VO) This man, a deserter, tells how he 
was recruited by the Burmese army just south of 
the pipeline zone.   Man #5: (Through translator) 
We all had to enter a drawing. If you drew "to 
serve," you could not refuse.   MARASH: (VO) As a 
soldier, he says, he supervised workers who were 
treated like slaves.   And the porters' work, was 
it connected with protecting the pipeline at all?   
Man #5: (Through translator) They brought porters 
from the south to the pipeline area, where they 
were assigned to different military units--some to 
carry supplies, some for other work. I have seen 
old men struggle with heavy loads. I have seen 
them beaten and kicked into the valley because 
they couldn't carry any more.   

Jane Doe #1: 
(Through translator) The happiest day of my life 
is when we lived in our village. We could farm and 
make a living and live among our relatives.   

MARASH: (VO) Jane Doe No. 1 may be the plaintiffs' 
most powerful witness against UNOCAL. She says her 
village was uprooted to make way for the pipeline, 
just as the deserter described.   What did the 
army do?   Jane Doe #1: (Through translator) They 
took all our rice, they took our chickens, then 
they burned down the houses and arrested people.   

MARASH: (VO) After her family had relocated, she 
says, troops came to her new home looking for her 
husband for forced labor.   

Jane Doe #1: (Through 
translator) They just punch and kick me and ask me 
where my husband was. I lied and told them he was 
away. So they punch me again and I lost a tooth. I 
was breast feeding my baby at the time. So both 
the baby and I fell into the fire. Then I passed 

MARASH: When she regained consciousness, 
what kinds of injuries had she and her baby 
suffered?   Jane Doe #1: (Through translator) I 
was badly burned. Right on the baby's stomach, 
there was a sore and she wouldn't let you touch 
it. Every time she went to the bathroom, there was 
blood and when she coughed, there was more blood.   
MARASH: (VO) The baby died before Jane Doe No. 1 
could get to a doctor.   Is this something that 
happens in Myanmar these days?   

Mr. IMLE: I've 
heard that story before. And it--it is an 
incredible, sad and shocking story. And it--as a 
parent, it touches me. I have followed up that 
story to the extent that I am on the ground, that 
I am very satisfied that that did not happen in 
connection with this project. I'm absolutely 
comfortable that there have been no relocations of 
villages in the area of this pipeline for the 
benefit of the pipeline.   

addition to the panoply of human rights problems 
in Burma, there's another serious issue.   

Mr. BARRY McCAFFREY (Directing Office, National Drug 
Control Policy): It's just a huge dominant 
influence on heroin production in the world. 
Perhaps 17 percent of the heroin coming into the 
United States probably comes out of Burma. Now it 
is also producing methamphetamines in huge 
volumes. So in terms of drug supply, it's a major 
threat to its regional partners and to some extent 
to the rest of the world.   

The regime is--is in--I was going to say in bed 
with the so-called rehabilitated drug lords.   
MARASH: (VO) Maureen Aung Twin monitors Burma for 
the Soros Foundation. She says constructive 
engagement only subsidizes the military regime and 
all its bad habits.   Ms. AUNG TWIN: So they did 
all these cease-fires with them, but what they've 
done is they--they--part of the cease-fire was to 
allow them to keep on producing, and they've 
allowed them to pursue so-called legitimate 
business in Rangoon. But, actually, it's just a 
way to allow them to launder some of their moneys 
in seemingly legitimate businesses.   Group of 
Protesters: (In unison) UNOCAL, out of Burma.   

Mr. KELLY QUINN (Oil Chemical Atomic Workers 
Union): Well, you know, sometimes a little street 
theater, you know, can go a long way to influence 

MARASH: (VO) This demonstration by 
UNOCAL workers and other activists at the annual 
stockholders meeting illustrates how Burma's drug 
reputation is tarnishing UNOCAL's reputation.   
Unidentified Protester #2: UNOCAL heroin. UNOCAL 

Mr. QUINN: We actually distributed 
fake heroin to stockholders entering their meeting 
in '97 and business cards indicating that we were 
sales representatives--heroin sales 
representatives for UNOCAL.   

MARASH: (VO) Harvard 
professor Deborah Spar says the continuing public 
argument is doing real damage to UNOCAL's moral 
and business brands.   

Ms. SPAR: Maybe not so much 
on their bottom line, but certainly, this has also 
been a time of--of pretty active stock market 
increases and--and UNOCAL stock prices have been 
flat throughout.   

MARASH: (VO) Spar suggests that 
UNOCAL may want to bail out of Burma, but John 
Imle says UNOCAL's staying.   

Mr. IMLE: It's the 
right to do. It's the wrong thing to do to cut and 
run. And when I'm visiting these people in these 
villages, they say, 'We're glad you're here. 
Please stay.' Now what do I say to them if I 
leave?   Unidentified Man #6: (Through translator) 
The way I understand it, the companies want to 
work here in peace. But things don't go properly. 
They have to cooperate with the military in order 
to do business. But the consequences, the military 
oppresses the people more and more and the people 
are suffering badly.   

MARASH: Clearly an unhappy 
situation, but can UNOCAL be held responsible for 
it? A judge and perhaps eventually a jury will 
decide, and what a decision. The UNOCAL case could 
be hugely significant. If the plaintiffs win, 
future American investors will have to select 
locations not just for their potential 
profitability, but for their political morality. 

I'm Dave Marash for NIGHTLINE in Washington.   
BROWN: I'll be back in a moment.  

(Commercial Break)   

BROWN: Finally tonight, a program note. 
Tomorrow on "Good Morning America," the case of 
Elian Gonzalez and the question of who is 
responsible for his welfare. That's tomorrow on 
"Good Morning America." That's our report for 
tonight. I'm Aaron Brown in Washington. For all of 
us here at ABC News, good night.  



Deutsche Presse-Agentur 

April 3, 2000, Monday, BC Cycle    

Myanmar's (Burma's) junta launched "tax-free" food 
markets for Yangon (Rangoon) residents at the 
weekend in an effort to curb inflation, news 
reports said Monday.   At least two "tax free" 
outdoor markets selling vegetables, meat and fish 
products were opened Saturday in a bid to control 
prices after the junta announced hikes in civil 
servants' salaries last week, said the New Light 
of Myanmar newspaper.   

The markets offer goods 
produced by state enterprises and large private 
companies in an effort to cut out middlemen 
traders and lower retail prices.   The junta on 
Friday addressed leaders of the local business 
community to instruct traders to keep prices down 
in the aftermath of the pay raises.   Mass pro-
democracy demonstrations were sparked in Yangon in 
1988 by the government's decision to demonetise 
nearly half of the local currency, wiping out 
millions' of people's savings.   

The anti-military 
protests, which were finally suppressed by a 
brutal crackdown in September 1988, were partly 
fuelled by declining economic conditions after 26 
years of socialism.   State Peace and Development 
Council (SPDC) First Secretary Lieutenant General 
Khin Nyunt visited the "tax free" markets this 
weekend to check prices. Arrangements are underway 
to open more such markets, he said. 



Myanmar's first international weekly Journal                  
April 3 - 9 ,2000
Volume 1, No.5


AN ASEAN Economic Ministers' meeting is scheduled to be held for 
the first time in Yangon on 2 May. 

Trade and Economic Ministers from the 10 ASEAN nations plus the
Ministers from the ASEAN dialogue partner nations: China,
Korea and Japan will be attending.

A preparatory meeting for the AEM plus the three was held in 
Yangon on 24 March to draw up a concrete action plan for the 

The Yangon meeting is expected to discuss on the joint statement
issued at the last November informal summit of the ASEAN
head of states/government and their counterparts from Japan, Korea 
and China. 

A communiqu?  é was then issued which urged greater East Asia 
Cooperation in accelerating trade, investment and technological 

Promoting tourism, and encouraging active participation in the
development of growth areas in East Asia, including the nations
of Mekong River Basin, were also stressed.

ASEAN and its dialogue partners have a range of issues under
discussion including the AFTA (ASEAN free Trade Area), AIA
(ASEAN Investment Area) and AICO (ASEAN Industrial 



Bangkok, in Thai 25 Mar 00 pp 1. 2 

Translation by BBC SWB

Text of report by Thai newspaper 'Puchatkan' on 25th March 

According to a report from Mae Sot District, Tak Province, since 
the beginning of March the Burmese government has instructed its 
import agencies to enforce the ban against 27 products, including
beverages, cosmetics, oil, and sugar, at all points of entry. The 
Burmese government regards those products as unessential. The
 import tax on some of those products is as high as 300 per 
cent, while for some products the Thai exporters are required 
to buy equal value of Burmese products in an attempt to 
curtail import. 

The report said despite the ban the prohibited products 
continued to arrive in Burmese markets and constituted 
the top 10 Thai exports to Burma. Thai businessmen 
resorted to bribe minority groups and Burmese officials 
and soldiers manning the goods transit points. The value 
of the bribe totalled at least 20 per cent of the value 
of imported lot, which enabled importers to avoid 
having to pay the 200_300 per cent import tax. 

Previously, the banned products were usually smuggled 
through the Huai Muang pier or six or seven other 
piers in the Mae Sot_Myawaddi area. There were at 
least five piers along the Mae Sai_Thachilek border,
 in addition to another pier which was operated by 
the United Wa State Army and open around the clock. 

Panithi Tangphati, president of the Board of Trade 
of Tak Province who is a major exporter of seasoning 
powder and oil to Burma via the Mae Sot_Myawaddi
 border, said on 24th March the Burmese government 
became more strict than normal with the import ban. 
It informed the people in Myawaddi via various media 
of the ban and dispatched officials to step up the 
monitoring efforts. One vendor had all the banned 
products confiscated before 70 per cent of them
were returned and the remaining 30 per cent

Some 270 Thai products are sold in Burmese markets, 
but the ten biggest exports are palm oil, sandal 
slippers, truck tires, cloth, seasoning powder, 
bicycles, plastic articles, T_shirts, sarong, 
and candies. 


Two historic lawsuits ?  '¶ grassroots activists versus transnational 
corporations ?  '¶ are taking place in the United States. 		

The Supreme Court in Washington DC is hearing arguments and will 
decide if the Massachusetts Burma Law is constitutional. In 
California, a Federal Court in Los Angeles will soon decide if it 
proceed with or dismiss a lawsuit against oil giant Unocal brought by 
Burmese victims of alleged human rights abuses. 	

On March 22, the Supreme Court, which takes up only one per cent of 
the 10,000 cases referred to it annually, began hearing a suit filed 
the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) ?  '¶ an association of
600 US companies involved in foreign trade ?  '¶ that the Burma
purchasing law passed by the State of Massachusetts in June 1996 is 

The District Court of Massachusetts and the Appeals Court had 
earlier ruled in favour of NFTC, which initiated the lawsuit in 1998 
arguing that the statute, restricting state purchases from companies 
that do business in Burma, violates US constitutional provisions 
give the federal government exclusive power to set foreign policy and 
regulate foreign commerce. 	

Joining in the debate are Japan and the European Union, which in 
1998 had filed a suit against the Massachusetts law at the World 
Trade Organisation, arguing that the state's legislation infringes 
global freetrade policy that advocates procurement based solely on 
price and performance, not political criteria. Pressured by its 
partners, the US Administration filed a brief in support of the NFTC. 

In their petition to the Supreme Court, Massachusetts lawyers argued 
that a ruling against the Burma Law would go against the decisions 
made by the people through legislatures about how their tax money 
should be spent and therefore constitutes an infringement of local 
democracy. The Massachusetts Burma Law, which is identical to the 
one that helped bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa, 
stipulates that companies that do business in Burma must add a 10 per 
cent penalty to their bid against competing firms ?  '¶ a
which virtually bars such companies from winning any state 
procurement contracts (amounting to about US$2 billion annually). 

According to William Bole, an American News Service journalist, the 
heart of the debate is not Burma, but whether the state and local 
governments can exercise their purchasing power against human 
rights abusers around the globe. It is also a showdown between 
transnational corporations and grassroots activists, between global 
trade and local sovereignty. 

If the Supreme Court strikes down the Massachusetts law, similar 
Burma statures passed by nearly two dozen cities and counties across 
the US could be wiped from the books. Such a ruling will also have 
farreaching consequences on identical selective purchasing laws 
passed by municipalities, cities and the State of Vermont, targeting 
China, Cuba, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Sudan, Tibet and 
Switzerland (for the Swiss bank accounts once held by Holocaust 

In a written reply to The Nation, Simon Billenness, a leading Burma 
campaigner in the US, said if the Supreme Court upholds the lower 
courts' decision, the Free Burma movement will push for other 
different types of legislation including divestment laws that require 
city and state pension funds to divest themselves of stock in 
that do business in Burma. It will also continue with other campaigns 
of consumer boycotts, shareholder resolutions, demonstrations, 
lawsuits, federal sanctions, etc, added Billenness, a social activist 
and a 
senior analyst of Trillium Asset Management ?  '¶ a social investment 
firm in Boston. 

For Billenness, Burma campaigners "have already won one powerful 
victory" in the lawsuit. "No US companies are talking about going 
back to Burma even if the Supreme Court rules that the state and 
local Burma laws are unconstitutional," he said. "Burma will remain a 
country where almost all corporations will refuse to do business." 

A final judgement by the ninemember Supreme Court is expected in 

On the Pacific coast, the Federal Court in Los Angeles has 
rescheduled to May 22 a hearing on whether to proceed with or 
dismiss a lawsuit filed by 15 Burmese plaintiffs against Unocal and 
two top executives. Unocal is a key contractor for the controversial 
Yadana natural gas pipeline. It's unclear why the court decided to 
postpone the oral argument sessions which were initially scheduled to 
begin yesterday (April 4). 

American lawyers working on behalf of the Burmese victims said they 
do not know how long the pretrial process, known as "summary 
judgement", will last. But if the court rules in favour of the 
"there is nothing to stop us from going to the trial", said Tyler 
Giannini, a lawyer with EarthRights International, which helped 
bring the lawsuit against the American oil corporation. 

Unocal has submitted a motion for the summary judgement to dismiss 
the action, but the plaintiffs and their lawyers have responded that 
transnational corporations can be held legally responsible for 
of international human rights law in foreign countries and that the 
courts have the authority to adjudicate such claims. 

According to Giannini, "the oral arguments before the judge" by both 
sides which is like "a little trial" can take as long as the judge 
The summary judgement hearing is the second of a threephase civil 
trial in the US and tests whether there is enough of a factual 
between the litigants that reasonable people could find disagreement. 
If they could, the case would be slated for a jury trial which is the 
third and final phase. 

On October 3, 1996, a group of 15 Burmese villagers, who were 
subjected to human rights abuses associated with the construction of 
the US$1.2billion (Bt31.2billion) Yadana pipeline project, filed suit 
the Federal Court in Los Angeles against Unocal. The suit sought to 
hold Unocal and its two executives liable for international human 
rights violations, including forced labour, crimes against humanity, 
torture, violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention, and 
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 

The plaintiffs have sought a court injunction ordering Unocal to stop 
its activities and to pay compensation for the alleged abuses that 
occurred as a result of the construction project. Unocal and its 
Yadana partners, including the French oil firm Total, have rejected 
charges against them, including complicity with the Burmese junta in 
its human rights abuses. 

On March 25, 1997, US Federal Court Judge Richard A Paez signed a 
38page order accepting the plaintiffs' complaint ?  '¶ the first
phase of 
the litigation. The court rejected a motion by Unocal to dismiss the 
case based on the argument that the matter was outside the 
jurisdiction of the US court. The court's decision to grant 
over Unocal set a "groundbreaking" precedent as it allowed victims, 
for the first time, the right to sue multinational companies for 
violations of international humanrights law, said plaintiff lawyers 
Katherine Redford of EarthRights International and Jennie Green, a 
staff attorney with the Centre for Constitutional Rights. 

Jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims against the defendants was 
granted under the 1792 Alien Tort Claims Act. The 200yearold law 
allows lawsuits in US courts against multinational companies for 
activities outside the US which violate international law. The tort 
was previously applied only to environmental matters. 

The March 25 decision allowed the plaintiffs to move into the second 
phase of litigation, the civil discovery ?  '¶ a process in which the
parties take testimonies from witnesses and exchange copies of 
documents related to the Yadana project. In an interview last week, 
Giannini said the discovery was completed last December and that 
plaintiff lawyers had acquired "some 40,000 plus documents", a 
number of which provided strong support to their case. 

By Yindee Lertcharoenchok 

The Nation (April 5, 2000)



April 5, 2000

  Peter Mccusker    THE might of the United States 
government has joined the fight to free James 
Mawdsley from jail in Burma.   As James's 20-day 
hunger strike came to an end last night it emerged 
US officials have spoken to the British Government 
about his case.   James's mother Diana, of Durham 
City, has been informed by a US State Department 
official that it is pressing for James's release 
on compassionate grounds.   

A US Congressman has 
also requested his release - and the United 
Nations has been asked to censure Burma over his 
treatment.   Former Hexham schoolboy James, 27, 
was jailed on September 1 for 17 years just hours 
after entering Burma for the third time from 
Thailand.   He wants to appeal against the 
sentence but has so far been denied a transcript 
of his "trial" by the Burmese junta. He needs this 
before he can lodge an appeal.   James's hunger 
strike was initiated in part to highlight the slow 
progress of his attempted appeal.   His family 
were still awaiting news of his condition last 

But details of the US government's 
involvement in his case emerged yesterday.   An 
official for the State Department in Washington 
told The Journal: "We are aware of this matter. 
The US embassy in Rangoon is in touch and co-
ordinating with the British embassy in Rangoon. 
The US government has been called upon by one of 
its elected representatives to do something about 
James Mawdsley."   The State Department's 
involvement stems from representations by 
Congressman Frank Wolf. A spokesman in the 
Washington office of Mr Wolf, representative for 
Virginia, said he had been asked to approach the 
Burmese ambassador to the US by Liberal Democrat 
peer Lord Alton.   He said: "Congressman Wolf was 
informed of Mr Mawdsley's position by Lord Alton. 
He is now very interested in the case and is very 
concerned for James. He has written to the Burmese 
ambassador specifying his concerns and asking for 
Mr Mawdsley's release."   

The State Department's 
and Congressman Wolf's involvement has been 
welcomed by James's family.   Mrs Mawdsley, of 
Brancepeth, said: "It's unusual for the US 
government to become involved in a case of a non-
US citizen. But it's a very welcome development. 
They have taken an interest, a big interest. I 
have had a telephone call from the State 
Department saying they want to help secure my 
son's release.  

"A spokesman for the Foreign   
Office confirmed they had spoken to US officials 
and said 'it is not clear what role the US 
authorities can or are intending to play. We are 
providing full consular service to Mr Mawdsley as 
he is a British citizen.'''   The Jubilee 
Campaign, which campaigns for democracy in Burma, 
has submitted a report on the case to the UN 
Commission for Human Rights.   If the UNCHR 
decides to accept the report it will ask the 
Burmese to respond to Jubilee's submission, and 
the Burmese are bound to reply within 90 days.  



  BANGKOK, April 5 (AFP) - More than 140 Myanmar 
exiles have left a refugee  camp in Thailand for 
new lives in the West so far this year under a 
program to  resettlement in third countries, the 
United Nations said Wednesday. 

 Some 144 students were moved from the tense 
Manelooy holding centre in  western Thailand in 
the first quarter of the year, bringing to 262 the 
number  resettled abroad since last October, the 
United Nations High Commissioner for  Refugees 
(UNHCR) said in a statement. 

 Thailand said it wanted around 2,000 students to 
leave Manelooy for third  countries following a 
siege last year at Yangon's embassy in Bangkok by 
armed  rebels opposed to the Myanmar junta. 
 "We are steadily resettling people from Manelooy 
in line with the  government's request," said 
Jahanshah Assadi, the UNHCR representative in 

 "UNHCR is particularly grateful to the US for its 
expeditious and  substantial intake," he said. 
 Other refugees went to Australia and Canada and 
several other countries  were considering 
individual cases, the statement said.
Most of the exiles in the Manelooy camp fled here 
after a bloody 1988  military crackdown on Myanmar 
pro-democracy demonstrators.
Their presence in Thailand was called into doubt 
following the embassy  siege and their position 
became even more tricky when armed Myanmar rebel  
gunmen seized a hospital in Ratchaburi in January, 
holding hundreds of people  hostage. 

 The crisis ended when Thai special forces stormed 
the hospital and killed  all 10 rebels. 
 As well as the students, Thailand is also home to 
thousands of refugees,  many from different ethnic 
groups in Myanmar who have fled fighting between  
government troops and insurgent groups. 
 Many more Myanmar citizens living in the country 
are regarded as illegal  immigrants by the Thai 
government which launched a drive last year to 
send  illegal workers back across the border


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper 
providing comprehensive coverage of news and opinion on 
Burma  (Myanmar).  

For a subscription to Burma's only free daily 
newspaper, write to: strider@xxxxxxx 

You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail +1 (435) 304-9274 


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